If you still don’t quite get what the proposed HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning plan is all about and what it would do – take some time to watch the video above, in which the City Council met for the first time as the Select Committee that will decide the plan’s fate. Monday morning’s meeting was largely devoted to a briefing presented by city staff, introduced by committee chair Councilmember Rob Johnson as “where we are and how we got here.” But it also included the toplines of what it’s hoped the upzoning would do – lead to the construction of hundreds more units of lower-priced housing in the city each year, by requiring developers to either include some in their projects or pay a certain fee to the city to fund them elsewhere.
As noted during the briefing, the council’s vote is at least six months away. And several councilmembers made it clear they are looking for lots more information: Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda asked for an overlay of publicly owned land that might be eligible for affordable housing. Councilmember Lorena González wanted to know more about affordable-housing projects already in the pipeline. Our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold voiced frustration that she doesn’t believe potential displacement has been adequately analyzed – there is lots of info about how many people are moving to Seattle, but not so much about how many are moving out, she noted.
During the staffers’ recap of the “engagement” efforts over the past year-plus, Herbold also brought up concerns she had heard about “missteps along the way.” She mentioned “several” events at which people walked away with concerns from changes to neighborhood plans, a lack of clarity about the MHA plan including zoning changes, and/or confusion over what upzoning would allow. And she pointed out that “Some of the promotional materials … did not give the impression” that big changes were being contemplated. She also said she’s being asked about councilmembers potentially developing “companion resolutions” that might address the plan district by district and said if that was happening, it needed to be discussed sooner rather than later. And she pointed out that while urban village rezoning in HALA MHA is presented as enabling more people to live closer to “good transit,” two urban villages without robust transit are in her district – Admiral and South Park.
After Monday’s briefing (which was followed by public comment you also can watch in the video), here’s what’s next:
NEXT COUNCIL ‘SELECT COMMITTEE’ MEETING: February 12th.
APPEALS OF THE FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT: As reported previously, the process for the appeals of the HALA MHA Final Environmental Impact Statement, filed by neighborhood advocates from around the city, is proceeding in parallel. Next step is a pre-hearing conference on February 14th.
WILL YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD BE AFFECTED? IF SO, HOW? Here’s the web map you can use to find out.